Monthly Meditation – April 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity 

Regional Spiritual Assistant 

St. Francis of Assisi Friary 

1901 Prior Road 

Wilmington, Delaware 19809 

tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website:  skdsfo     email: 

 April 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you His peace!
Through the mystery of the Passion and Death of Jesus
May the Joy of His Resurrection and Renewed Life fill your hearts and lives!

Lent has run its course. We journeyed through the season by prayer, fasting, acts of charity. Now we enter the joy of the Resurrection through our spiritual immersion into the mystery of the Passion and Death of Jesus. Every day of the week we call “Holy” is another moment in that wonderful drama of our salvation. In the Father’s Plan, Jesus is the Victor, only after passing through the crucible of His Passion-Death. His Victory over suffering and death is for all humanity.

The week began with the “Hosannas” of the populace. In a brief time, “Hosannas” are followed by the intrigue and betrayal of Jesus by His nearest and dearest friends “hand-picked” by Himself. What ensues is choreographed by the religious leaders of His own nation and the foreign occupational forces. The protagonists play out their roles in the Governor’s palace, in the streets of Jerusalem, and on Golgotha. “Hosannas” turned to “Crucify Him” leading Him to crucifixion and death. Jeering remarks ridiculing a dying man are directed at Him as He hung dying on the Cross. The drama still must peak in a tragic-bloody-humiliating manner when Jesus, nailed as a criminal to the cross, is mockingly hailed as Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, (John 19: 19) and lead to a moment of desolation when He exclaims My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?!  (Psalm 22: 1; Matthew 26: 46) His death makes the bystanders return to their homes beating their breasts (Luke 23: 48), and compels a Roman centurion to say Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27: 54).  Everything climaxes with the death of Jesus. His death continues to proclaim love, compassion and forgiveness for all. As His spirit ebbed from His body, conflicting sentiments were felt by all present.

If everything ended there, what a tragedy it would be for us all! But, the story does not finish there! It cannot! Our story does not end on the Cross. Our story finds its true beginning there, at the Cross, and its “confirmation” only hours later on Sunday morning. When Jesus cries: Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit, (Luke 23: 46) our life-blood is renewed and we again are offered the opportunity to be one with the God who became one with us.

We are a people who profess and proclaim not death but life! Saint Paul tells the community of Corinth: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain…But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep…for in Christ, all shall be brought to life…so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15: 13-28).

Each year all Christians throughout the world gather to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. The denomination does not matter. Every Christian is a true Christian only if he/she believes that Jesus was nailed to a cross and died, and on the third day rose from the dead. If one does not believe in the physical Resurrection of Jesus, he/she cannot really call him/herself a true Christian. Many non-Christian people admire all that Jesus said and did; they even seek to emulate His life. But, if one does not believe in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, as Saint Paul says, life for that individual really has no personal meaning beyond the here and now moment of philanthropic or self-centered survival. As socially, economically, or otherwise materially fulfilling as it might all seem, what way is this to live one’s life! What kind of life can it be? Is it really living?! Is it not just a co-existence (albeit good, respectful, moral…) with the world and all the world proclaims? Why would anyone invest so much of him/herself in the world if all their endeavors and accomplishments ended with the soul’s exit from the body? Unless our passage from life to Life is a reality we truly believe, and by which we live, as St. Paul says, We are the deadest of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15: 17)

We are children of the Resurrection. Our song is “Alleluia”. The theater of Redemption is the world in which we live. St. Francis in the Canticle of the Creatures and Pope Francis in the Encyclical Laudato Si’ both remind us, with so many other holy men and women, of this wonderful truth of God’s gift of Creation. And Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, is the Victim of humanity’s ingratitude to Love Incarnate. Our hope, founded on faith in an impossible event, proclaims that the finality of death was conquered by the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus. He is alive and well! Life is worth living! Death has lost its sting! Death is no longer the “grim reaper” that destroys and reduces us to nothingness. In the Resurrection of Jesus, Death is the point of convergence of one’s life, and the threshold of eternity. Life is merely changed, not ended. And, when the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting place in heaven (Preface for Masses for the Deceased).

Why do we Catholics, like the Corinthians who were reprimanded by St. Paul, fail so often to live as the redeemed people we are? Who more than we Franciscans should be the joyful troubadours of Resurrection Joy of the “enfleshed” Son of God, Jesus the Christ?! This joy we share because the Almighty One, Who could have done all alone, sought the collaboration of a creature, our Mother Mary, to believe and accept the impossible. In our Immaculate Virgin Mother, humanity becomes an essential participant in the whole Eternal Plan of the Redemption (or Restoration in Grace) of Creation! What grace! What gift! What trust! WHAT LOVE!!!

Our world and our own immediate society is impregnated with hatred, violence, terrorism, war, terminal illnesses, tragic lifestyles, deadly addictions, pandemics, and more. This is a reality we cannot deny. But the world is, as stated above, the theater of Redemption. It is an enormous setting where all are protagonists of a marvelous story that has God Incarnate in the lead role, and the rest of us as understudies who seek to image God by the way we live. In this theater roles are exchanged often: sometimes we are among the central figures, other times we watch with hope-filled anticipation as the whole story of our salvation unravels before our eyes. What do our eyes see? Hopefully, we all recognize the Risen Lord Jesus, alive and well in our midst, as we seek to share in His Life following His words and example.

How often are we like the Israelites who kept the wounds of their years of slavery in Egypt open, even though their Passage through the Red Sea was an undeniable proof of the power and the credibility of their God. They continued to complain and expect God to do for them what they had the ability, in God’s grace, to do for themselves. We have not let the wonderful effects of Jesus’ Resurrection – our Passage from Death to Life – on that first Easter Sunday penetrate our hearts. We still have not lived our Exodus experience as profoundly as we ought. God leads and strengthens those who recognize and acknowledge their vulnerability, and who admit to their needy state without Him. Is not that what being a “penitent” means; are we not originally the “Penitents of Assisi”? God accompanies us from the mentality of self-centered individualism, to an open-hearted availability and acceptance of others. Like the Israelites of old, we would rather have the onions and garlic of a bondage we have learned to accept/tolerate, rather than the challenge to be free and go beyond the barriers we set in our lives. The Resurrection of Jesus encourages us to look beyond our failures, to move courageously forward beyond our fears, to trust confidently and use well our God-given gifts, to believe in the Life Jesus came to give us.

To go beyond is eventually to enter the Land of Promise. We cannot continue to mix the straw of complacency and indifference with the mud of confusion and earthliness. This only fabricates bricks of slavery that erect walls that hinder our journey to God. We complacently build the cities of man, rather than struggle to build the City of God. A culture of death still pervades our society. Children of the Resurrection, freed in the Blood of Jesus, imbued with the gift of the Holy Spirit, Loved by the Father, we are called to freedom – a freedom the world does not understand and yet still attempts to create through power, prestige, possessions, and the like. The motto seems to be “leave me alone and in peace, and I’ll accept anything”. No risk, no gain! (Mother Francis Bachmann, foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia). In Jesus there is no risk of loss, only gain. Yet, often we opt for the slavery that stunts our spiritual growth and blinds us to the wonder and glory of the Resurrection that speaks to us of our dignity and freedom as redeemed children of God in Jesus through the Spirit.

Like the first followers who experienced the Savior’s Passion and Death, we can allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the difficulties and delusions of life. Or, we can fix our gaze on the Risen Lord. Like the women who went to the tomb, we may love Jesus deeply, but feel and act as though He is still in the tomb. Their love could not separate them from Him, even in death. It was that loyalty, that fidelity, that offered them the gift of being the first to see the Resurrected Lord… and they kissed His feet and ran to tell the others. (Matthew 28: 9) Eventually His love wins the hearts of those who sincerely seek Him, even through difficulty and failure.

The Cross was a fixed moment in time, whose effects would last eternally. There is a powerful phrase in the Passion account that many read and pass over: from noon until three in the afternoon, there was darkness over all the earth. (Matthew 27: 45) The evangelist reduces this horrific moment of humanity’s ingratitude to its Creator to a determined amount of time. Thus, we are reminded that the powers of darkness can rule only for a time, but will never prevail forever. His Life and His Light will always have the advantage over death and darkness. He is risen, go tell His brethren that He precedes them! (Matthew 28: 7)

Spiritual children of the Seraphic One of Assisi, whose body was visibly “stigmatized” with the signs of God’s love for us in Jesus, do we preach without words our belief in a living faith that leads to eternal life? Or, are we “stigmatized” not with Jesus’ selfless love for us, but with our self-centered love for survival and acclaim?  Does the Resurrection remind us of Jesus’ words, Unless the grain of wheat dies, it remains just a grain of wheat ? (John 12: 24)

Fear not!  He has conquered death … Have courage! His Spirit within you can withstand all that surrounds you … He is Risen! We never stand alone before the world because we are victors in the Victim in Whose death we come alive. Easter proclaims a message of liberation and long-lasting-Life. Easter is the day and the Season that continually reminds us that the Son will always cast His Light on us. The darkness of sin, cynicism, skepticism cannot keep the light of the Son of God from enlightening our lives and our world. The question is whether we will accept to bask in the Light of the Son, or remain in darkness. When we create room in our hearts for the Lord to enter, then the power of Easter can take us to heights never imagined.

As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, we too are reminded that only through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives can we fathom something of the mystery of Christ’s love for us. It is the Risen Jesus who teaches us the value of the Cross – you cannot separate the Victor from the Victim. The Cross without Christ is tyranny; Christ without the Cross is a lie (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen). In the midst of all this is the silent, dignified, and loving figure of Mary; she is always with us on our journey, leading us, who love her as our Heavenly Mother, closer to one another and to Jesus her Son. May our Easter Season help us to value all that God asks of us, so that through Mary to Jesus, in Whose Passion-Death-Glorious Resurrection we enter the Father’s loving embrace, we may live virtuously, die piously, and achieve the fullness of the rewards of Eternal Life.

May God bless you; Our Lady and her beloved husband St. Joseph guide, guard, and protect you; and may Padre Pio watch over each one of you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care. May the Risen Lord inflame your hearts with love, and bless you and your loved ones with the gift of His Easter Peace and Joy.

Christ is Risen!  He is truly risen!  Alleluia! 

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap

Regional Spiritual Assistant

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